In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. The characters can often do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health disorders, unfortunately, are equally as potent and much less fun. Tinnitus, for instance, is an exceptionally common condition that affects the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be substantial.
What is tinnitus?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that about 25 million individuals experience it every day.
There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go really quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, are you stressed, or is it allergies? The difficulty is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. But you may never really know in other situations. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus might be the consequence of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to handle this.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it may cause some swelling. This inflammation can trigger tinnitus.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud settings (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, managing it may become easier. Clearing a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it goes away, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should make an appointment with us to find out what’s going on (or at least begin treatment). We will execute a hearing examination, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be treated and it can be managed.
If your tinnitus is a result of a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will result in a noticeable difference in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are many things that we can do to help. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be calibrated to your unique tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less conspicuous.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. In these situations, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
The treatment plan that we create will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus needs. The objective will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from getting worse. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.